In California, suing your employer directly for a work injury is generally not possible.

This is because California has a workers’ compensation system. Under this system, employers are required to carry insurance that provides benefits to employees who are injured on the job, regardless of fault.

However, there are some exceptions where you might have a case outside workers’ compensation:

  • Third-party liability: If someone other than your employer caused your injury (like a drunk driver in a work vehicle accident), you may have a personal injury claim against them.
  • Employer misconduct: In rare cases, if your employer intentionally caused your injury or displayed extreme recklessness, you might sue them directly.

Read the full article for a detailed explanation of these exceptions and how a California work injury attorney can help you navigate the legal process.

What if I’m injured on the job?

If you’re injured on the job, you may have two separate kinds of cases. You definitely have a worker’s comp case under California law, but in addition, if there was someone other than your employer who’s at fault, you would also have a personal injury case.

The simplest example of this is: you’re driving in the course of employment, delivering something for your employer, when a drunk driver runs a red light and injures you. In that situation, you’re going to get worker’s comp benefits through your employer, but at the same time you have a personal injury case against the drunk driver.

We deal with this issue all the time, and under California law the two systems mesh in a fairly intelligent way, so that you’re given protection on the short end by comp and then on the longer end by your personal injury case.

What if I am on the job at the time of the accident?

Some of our clients are actually working on the job at the time of their accident and they ask what the impact of that is. The impact is that they really have two cases. They have a workers’ compensation case through their own employer for their injuries and they have a personal injury case handled through our law firm against the person who caused the accident.

It’s something that comes up maybe ten percent of the time and it is a little tricky to weave together the personal injury case and the workers’ comp case, but it can be done–it needs to be done–and in fact it’s very often to the benefit of the client.

It’s something we deal with all the time and it works out quite nicely for the client because one-hundred percent of the client’s medical bills are covered under the workers’ comp case.

What if the person at fault is on the job at the time of the accident?

A lot of people tell me that they were in an accident and the person who was at fault said he was delivering lumber for his boss or he was on the way to meet his boss for an appointment. What this means is that not only is the person’s individual insurance company involved in the compensation for this case, but the employer’s insurance company is involved. And that means–particularly in the cases with a severe injury–that there is normally (in addition to a more modest policy on behalf of the person who was driving) a very large commercial policy on behalf of that person’s employer.

There is sometimes some wrangling between the two insurance companies, but that is not a problem for the injured person. In fact, it’s usually a benefit for the injured person. The reason being, the injured person is going to recover the whole amount and really isn’t worried about which of the two insurance companies pays the most.

Exploring Your Legal Options After a Work Injury

Navigating the aftermath of a workplace injury involves understanding your rights, potential compensation, and the legal pathways available. These articles provide essential insights into frequently asked questions about work injuries, including whether suing your employer is an option:

Written by Andy Gillin. Last Updated 04/15/2024